10 Finals Week Traditions at The University of Iowa

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The University of Iowa’s rich history began in 1847, which means that for 169 years, finals week has tortured students. Throughout those 169 years, students have formed many finals week traditions to help survive the hell that is finals week.

Here at UI, we have some finals week traditions to make the week more bearable.

1. Reserving a study room in the library

The University offers the option to reserve a private study room in the library. It comes equipped with whiteboards, tables, and everything you need to get on that last minute group-study grind. We recommend that you reserve a study room months in advance because, you should always prepare for sh–t to hit the fan. Also, common courtesy at the University of Iowa is to leave supportive notes on the whiteboard when leaving. For example “You can do it!” or “Winter break is just around the corner, stranger!” or my personal favorite, “It’s never too late to change your major!”

2. Being blessed by Nile Kinnick

kinnick finals week traditions


Perhaps not the most common of traditions, but UI student James Thompson says he and his friends annually visit the statue of Nile Kinnick in front of Kinnick stadium. He said he and his friends thought they would fail their final. “Nile Kinnick can do anything, even help me with a final we weren’t ready for,” Thompson said. Although known to have superpowers, Nile Kinnick didn’t help James and his friends out too much.

3. Free snacks at the IMU

After weeks of only buying snacks on sale, three days of no sleep (or bathing for that matter) and just 24 hours until your final, a simple free apple from the gracious people at the IMU happens to be just enough to carry someone through the last few days of grinding. Also a relatively new tradition, and a much needed one, the previous years consisted of people who haven’t left the IMU in a week (and it shows) fighting each other over the Jimmy John’s sub one of them ordered at 2:30 that morning.

4. Staying in during “Dead Week”

Dead Week. The term used to describe the week before the dreaded finals week. For many students, this may mean staying *gasp* sober. That’s right, despite the numerous bars and parties every weekend at UI, some people make the responsible decision every year to stay in and study during dead week. Academics always come before partying at UI, especially during Dead Week.

5. Counseling… not that you need it or anything

Alright, tough guy, we know you don’t need another lecture about stress management or smart scheduling. Calm down. But can it ever hurt? Sometimes you need to swallow your pride and get some input on studying habits and your mental health. Mental health > anything. Always. Also remember to thank the counselor you see. I mean, Black Friday at Walmart doesn’t even compare. Finals Week at UI involves hordes of crying students who are stretched too thin screaming about God knows what. Katie Halpin, a freshman at UI brought the counselor she saw “just a little $5 gift card I had laying around and wasn’t going to use… she wasvery appreciative and it meant a lot to her I could tell. It seemed like she had already had a long day.”

6. Figuring out where your professors office hours actually are

Your professor’s office hours have gone unused the entire semester. But during finals week, that same professor will have a line going down the hall with desperate students cramming for the final … including your procrastinating ass. Don’t be discouraged. Wipe your tears, swallow your pride, and get the help you need. It works.  “I was really surprised at how much it helped me; it cleared up what I was really struggling with in that class,” freshman biology major Paige Martin said. The professors at University of Iowa are extraordinarily helpful, even to the students they’ve never even seen before.

7. Packing a tent, dry food, flares and water, and venturing above the first floor of the library

At the University of Iowa main library, the higher you go, the quieter it gets. This means that you can almost hear a pin drop on the 5th floor. Most of the time, people studying at the library don’t get past the first or second floor. Finals week: a great time to break past that barrier and make the trek up to the 3rd or even 4th floor. But be wary of the 5th floor. “It’s like a new world on the 5th floor… it’s scary. It’s too quiet to focus,” sophomore journalism and English major Jack Roland said. So explore it, see where you find your fit, but be wary of the 5th floor…

8. Bar Crawl after Spring Finals

After absolutely killing yourself for weeks over finals, finishing the test, and waiting on grades, you can’t beat going out for drinks. Luckily UI has got you covered. Every year after Spring finals, students let loose in downtown Iowa City and celebrate surviving (and hopefully passing) their finals.

9. Therapy Puppies at the IMU

Again, the IMU comes in clutch as one of the best places on campus to study for finals. This time, they hit us all in the soft spot. You will be able to play with puppies. Yes, you read that right. Puppies. The IMU is supplying puppies and therapy dogs that students will be able to play with. A little cuddle can be a great way to cope with the stress and anxiety of Finals Week.

10. Touching the brain

The brain sculpture in located on the T. Anne Cleary walkway and every UI student knows that touching it on the way to your final gives you good luck. That’s the first thing that freshmen learn at Iowa; they’re told that on orientation day. When I asked Jeremy Larkin, a freshman at UI about the brain he said “I love the brain. Sometimes I don’t even study I just rely on the brain to get me through it.”  All you really have to do is touch it, but of course some people take it way too far. If you decide to be that person, you can make sacrifices to the brain, lick the brain, or dress the brain up all pretty. You do you. Be as over the top as you need.

Hey all! I'm Nate, and I'm a freshman at University of Iowa. I'm originally from Milwaukee, WI and love writing poetry, short stories, and articles. I'm also a sports enthusiast, and just enjoy having a good time!

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